Every Thursday, Francis Storrs will take an inside look at high-stakes finance and dealmaking. This week: As Peggy-Davis Mullen’s HomeRun Mortgage strikes out, she takes a swing at the wine business.
When I learned earlier this summer that Peggy Davis-Mullen’s HomeRun Mortgage was being investigated for possible fraud, I expected a drawn-out public battle. After all, Davis-Mullen is a former City Councilor and 2001 mayoral candidate, and allegations of mortgage fraud suggest a serious abuse of public trust.
I was wrong. With the exception of a handful of news articles—all of which noted that HomeRun had been issued a temporary cease-and-desist order by the state Division of Banks—the story vanished. But now it’s official: HomeRun is out of business for good.
According to the Division of Banks’ temporary order, the mortgage brokerage was initially closed in July after regulators unearthed suspicious business records. During a surprise inspection at HomeRun’s Dedham office, examiners found purchase and sale agreements, loan applications, credit reports and other documents “that had been altered by whiting out information and cutting and pasting borrower information,” according to the order. The business was subsequently shuttered when Davis-Mullen stopped cooperating with the investigation.
This wasn’t the first time Davis-Mullen’s mortgage firm has been involved in paperwork irregularities. In 2006, her husband, attorney William Mullen, was indefinitely suspended from practicing law for providing false information during several real-estate closings. In one instance, Davis-Mullen’s firm connected the seller, represented by her husband, with potential buyers.
There’s nothing suspicious about that. But William Mullen then went on to prepare documentation that, among other things, falsely inflated the selling price and reported that a $5,000 deposit had been paid when no deposit had changed hands, according to a Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers’ report.
The Division of Banks examiners never did get back into the HomeRun office this summer. Instead, Davis-Mullen simply withdrew her mortgage-license renewal applications. She also declined to appeal the temporary cease-and-desist order within 20 days, which made it permanent. Although we may never get an explanation for the whited-out records, the shuttered business will be taken into account if Davis-Mullen chooses to apply for a mortgage broker’s license again.
For now, though, the chances of her doing that seem pretty slim. She has recently been working for a Dedham liquor store, a business her husband co-founded in 2005. Customers are invited to ask her questions about particular wines or to request certain vintages. When I called, though, neither Davis-Mullen nor her husband was available to talk about mortgages wine. Which is a shame, really: I’m always in the market for a nice shiraz.